As Remembrance Sunday approaches, this poetic hymn by Doug Constable reflects on war and the way poppies can help us to remember and move forward in peace and hope.

‘Some people are evidently puzzled by the wearing of white poppies; this piece offers an explanation.

Starting out as a poem, the first line presented itself to me as a tune I sang as a choirboy and hadn’t come across since. Interestingly, the words I thought I remembered from seventy years ago (but which I haven’t now been able to locate) allude to the Massacre of the Innocents in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 2 verse 16: ‘Down in yon forest there stands a stall … The bells of Bethlehem, I hear them ring… It’s covered all over with purple and pall…’

The words of the original are truly lyrical, and mine are intentionally clunkier; but I hope my debt to the original comes over as properly respectful…’

 

 

 

I wear a poppy whose petals are red –
the hell-bells of weaponsville, I hear them ring –
each petal is blood that in war has been shed;
and I love sister, brother above anything.

I wear a poppy whose petals are frail –
the knell-bells of weaponsville, we hear them ring –
each petal’s a soul that a war-deed will kill;
and I love sister, brother above anything.

I wear a poppy whose petals have flown –
the shell-bells of weaponsville, hear them still ring –
they’ve gone to a place where no warfare is known;
and I love sister, brother above anything.

I wear two poppies, one red, and one white –
a bell at reveille, I hear its faint ring –
it’s red for remembrance, hope-white in the light;
for I love sister, brother above anything.

I wear a poppy whose petals are white –
the still-bells of weaponsville no longer ring –
each petal’s a promise to live without hate,
for we love sister, brother above anything.

We’ll wear a poppy that’s rainbow and more –
the bright bells of commonwealth, let’s hear them ring –
whose petals spell peace in a world without war,
for we love sister, brother above anything.

 

 

Doug Constable is a supporter of APF, retired Vicar and keen musicians and composer. To read more about him and his work visit; www.dougconstablehymns.com

@dougconstablehymns

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This blog is intended to provide a space for people associated with APF to express their own personal views and opinions in order to promote discussion of issues relating to peacemaking and pacifism  It is not necessarily a place where the official views of APF are expressed.

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